Union Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M Venkaiah Naidu today delivered a blunt message to urban local bodies urging them ‘either to perform or perish’ in the new scheme of things.
Naidu did some plain speaking during the review performance of Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) in Andhra Pradesh in respect of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM).
The minister, on noticing that the Vijayawada urban body could spend only about 44% of its committed share for implementing various JnNURM projects resulting in under performance, said “this kind of urban governance will not enable the country convert the challenges of urbanization into an opportunity”. The minister further said that the government led by Narendra Modi had identified urban development as a priority sector and State/Union Territory (UT) Governments, and urban local bodies had to “opt for a paradigm shift in urban governance”.
Naidu voiced concern over the VMC being able to complete only 6 of the 20 projects sanctioned to it under the JnNURM that were implemented during 2005-2014. These projects were sanctioned at a total cost of Rs 1,624 crore and was later revised to Rs 1,338 crore in view of the corporation’s inability to mobilise its share of resources, even as the Centre released its share. Out of the corporation’s share of Rs 386 crore in the revised cost estimates, VMC could so far spend only Rs 172 crore, that is just about 44% of committed share over 9 years, resulting in poor performance under the JnNURM.
On noticing that the VMC did not raise taxes for over ten years, Naidu urged the Mayor, MPs, MLAs and officials who attended the review meeting to undertake necessary measures to enhance revenue base of the corporation without which the growing needs of urbanisation cannot be met. He said that people would be willing to pay for services if quality services are assured to them. He stressed that “no taxes means no development work, as seems to be the case with VMC”.
Naidu also emphasised the need to ensure transparency and people’s participation in urban development and governance by making public regularly the resources collected, details of works to be taken up and additional resources required, additional facilities to be provided to the people, etc.
The urban development minister told the elected representatives and officials that success of new urban development initiatives will succeed if only the State/UT Governments and urban local bodies get pro-active in respect of urban governance reforms and empowering of urban local bodies and capacity building for effective planning and execution of urban development initiatives.
Municipal Development Minister of Andhra Pradesh Narayana attended the review meeting at Vijayawada where the performance of Guntur Municipal Corporation was also reviewed, too.
Naidu has been visiting various States for discussions on issues of urban governance, implementation of urban development programmes and empowering urban local bodies with transfer of “funds, functions and functionaries”.
Press Information Bureau